Senator Mike Rounds came under withering fire from former president Donald Trump this week after South Dakota’s junior senator admitted over the weekend that Trump lost the 2020 election.
Rounds appeared on ABC’s This Week on Sunday where he plainly acknowledged that “the election was fair.”
“As a part of our due diligence, we looked at over 60 different accusations made in multiple states,” Rounds said on This Week. “While there were some irregularities, there were none of the irregularities which would have risen to the point where they would have changed the vote outcome in a single state.”
Unsurprisingly, Trump took exception to the statement that the election was fair – which is obvious to anyone who is not a fanatical Trump supporter.
“‘Senator’ Mike Rounds of the Great State of South Dakota just went woke on the Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 … Is he crazy or just stupid?” Trump said in a statement using scare quotes. “I will never endorse this jerk again.”
More surprisingly, several Senate Republicans defended their colleague. Mitt Romney – a frequent Trump critic who voted for Trump’s second impeachment after the January 6 insurrection – backed Rounds. But Romney was joined this time by several Republican senators who did not vote for impeachment, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Whip John Thune, and other rank-and-file members like Kevin Cramer and Shelley Moore Capito.
“I think Sen. Rounds told the truth about what happened in the 2020 election,” McConnell told CNN. “And I agree with him.”
“I’ve always said I agree that the election was not stolen – at least to the degree that it was illegal theft,” said Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND). “I’ve moved on a long time ago, and most members of Congress have, including Mike.”
For his part, Rounds has refused to back down, doubling down this week that the election was fair.
Is this a new strategy within the Senate Republican caucus to challenge Trump’s false contention that the election was “rigged?” It’s possible, considering many within the party blamed Trump for depressing turnout in Georgia’s twin runoffs last January, resulting in a split 50-50 Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. If Republicans had held even one of those seats last year, McConnell would still be the majority leader.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore